News / Asia

First Inter-Korean Talks in Two Years Scheduled for Sunday

North and South Korea have agreed to a date and venue for talks on a pair of stalled joint commercial projects.

South Korea's Unification Ministry says Pyongyang agreed on Saturday to meet Sunday at the truce village of Panmunjom in the heavily-guarded Demilitarized Zone separating the two foes.

This marks a significant thawing of the chill on the peninsula where tension has been high in recent months amid Pyongyang's war rhetoric and its nuclear and missile tests.

North Korea telephoned the South Friday afternoon on a Red Cross circuit running across the truce village of Panmunjom.

On the southern end of the line, officials told their counterparts in the north that they would agree to Pyongyang's offer of working-level talks Sunday. But the South wanted the discussion to take place at Panmunjom, not north of the border in Kaesong as the North proposed.

The border hotline, used to discuss humanitarian issues, was severed three months ago by the North.

Pyongyang made a surprise offer Thursday to hold wide-ranging talks with the South. It said Seoul could decide the venue and date.

South Korean officials quickly proposed ministerial-level talks in Seoul for June 12.

There have been no working level inter-Korean talks since February of 2011. Talks involving ministers have not been held in more than five years.

The North, however, termed it premature to hold high-level talks, saying working discussions would be needed initially "in the light of the prevailing situation in which relations have been suspended for many years and mistrust has reached the extreme."

A radio announcer in Pyongyang, quoting a spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, suggested a lower-level meeting be held Sunday (June 9) in the North at Kaesong.

Officials in Seoul say the talks, now set for Panmunjom, will discuss how to re-open and prevent another closure of the joint factory zone at Kaesong as well as the other shuttered inter-Korean business project - the resort complex on Mt. Keumgang.

Tensions Rising on Korean Peninsula

  • February 12: North Korea carries out third nuclear test
  • March 27: North Korea cuts military hotline with South Korea
  • March 28: U.S. B-2 bombers fly over Korean peninsula
  • March 30: North Korea says it has entered a "state of war" with South Korea
  • April 3: North Korea blocks South Korean workers from Kaesong
  • April 4: North Korea moves a missile to its east coast
  • April 9: North Korea urges foreigners to leave the South.  The U.S. and South Korea raise alert level
  • April 14: US Secretary of State John Kerry offers talks with Pyongyang if it moves to scrap nuclear weapons
  • April 16: North Korea issues threats after anti-Pyongyang protests in Seoul
  • April 29: North Korea holds back seven South Koreans at Kaesong
  • April 30: North Korea sentences American to 15 years hard labor for hostile acts
  • May 20: North Korea fires projectiles for a consecutive third day
  • May 24: North Korean envoy wraps up China visit for talks on Korean tensions
  • June 7: South Korea accepts Pyongyang's offer of talks on Kaesong and other issues
The tension on the Korean peninsula is to be a key agenda item in the talks that began Friday between between visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping and his host, President Barack Obama, in the U.S. state of California.

South Korea's president, Park Geun-hye, is also scheduled to meet the Chinese leader when she travels to Beijing on June 27.

Park on Friday addressing 140 top military commanders asserted that Pyongyang's proposal this week to hold official talks is a result of Seoul standing firm in the face of threats and provocations from the North.

The two Koreas have technically remained at war since the early 1950's and there are no diplomatic relations between the North and South.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
June 09, 2013 3:03 AM
If only the leader of N Korea had any senses. He would "Tear Down the Wall" and revolutionize his country and people. North Korea would even have lots of tourists wanting to go there, their economy would flourish. They would cut military spending cuts as well. It isn't always easy doing what is right!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs